Collaborating on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence

A group of women sit under a tree listening to a radio

It’s through collaboration that we can make the world a safer place for women and girls.

On Nov. 17, Farm Radio International’s Burkina Faso team participated in the first meeting of a coalition of organizations committed to fighting gender-based violence. The coalition was an initiative of EngenderHealth and managed by the Burkinabe ministry in charge of solidarity, humanitarian aid, national reconciliation, gender and the family. The participating organizations put their heads together to come up with the most effective and efficient way to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign in Burkina Faso.

This international civil society campaign takes place annually from Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to Dec. 10, Human Rights Day. The theme for 2022 is “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.” Women’s rights organizations and feminist movements are key to ending violence against women and girls, through running advocacy campaigns and driving policy change. 

Since what Farm Radio knows best is radio, we looked to find a way to share the messages promoted by these organizations across the country. After the coalition meeting, our team in Burkina Faso promoted the 16 Days of Activism campaign to 76 of our radio partners, sharing radio resources about gender-based violence. At least 39 of the radio stations committed to participating in the campaign.

One such station was Radio Loudon, which broadcasts from Sapouy, the capital of the Burkinabe province of Ziro. This community radio station aims to contribute to women’s social and economic development. Over the 16 days, Radio Loudon is prioritizing content about gender-based violence. They are using a variety of program formats, including interviews and radio spots (short announcements).

The radio station also produced a short video of rural women that they are playing on their radio programs and Facebook page to show solidarity. You can watch the video below.

Women farmers star in Radio Loudon’s video for the 16 Days of Activism campaign.

Supporting our partner radio stations with the 16 Days of Activism campaign

Farm Radio International boasts a network of more than 1,300 radio stations in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This year, for the first time, we promoted the 16 Days of Activism campaign to our entire network of radio stations. We shared a theme pack of resources related to gender-based violence, which included backgrounders, interview scripts and a series of 16 radio spots. We also ran a four-week online discussion about addressing sensitive issues on air, which had more than 500 participants.

The discussion helped Radio Cinporogo, which broadcasts from Sikasso in southern Mali, feel more confident addressing gender-based violence on air. For the 16 Days of Activism campaign, the station conducted street interviews asking “What is domestic violence?” It was the Christian radio station’s first time broaching the subject. They decided to discuss gender-based violence after receiving training from the Malian ministry responsible for the promotion of women, children and the family.

We design our radio resources so that stations like Radio Cinporongo have tools at their disposal for when they decide to participate in campaigns like this. A “how to” guide on broadcasting about sensitive topics might prepare broadcasters for tough interviews. Whereas a backgrounder on gender-based violence equips them with knowledge that they can share with their communities.

Building partnerships to advance gender equality

Back in 2021, Farm Radio International’s Mali office promoted the 16 Days of Activism campaign locally through meeting with 12 partner radio stations from the HÉRЀ project, which promotes women’s well-being in Mali, including improving women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and addressing gender-based violence. 

The Farm Radio International team in Mali holding signs to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism campaign
The Farm Radio team in Mali commemorating the 16 Days of Activism in 2021.

Though several of our projects focus specifically on gender, including the iHeard project in Malawi and the DÉFI project in Mali, we apply a gender equality lens to all of our projects. We work to ensure that women have equal access to good information to empower them to make choices to improve their own lives and that of their families. We also amplify women’s voices through supporting women broadcasters and promoting female listeners’ participation in radio programs. Through our projects and programs, we are tackling the root causes of gender inequality and gender-based violence.

We work with local civil society organizations to advance gender equality in the countries where we operate. We prioritize local or national NGOs, who can hold their communities and governments accountable and represent marginalized groups most effectively. We value these groups’ knowledge and expertise about the local context and gender realities and, in turn, we can work to ensure their message reaches those most in need.

Farm Radio International’s expertise lies in communication, not in the subjects addressed on radio programs. Therefore, when developing resources for radio stations, we work with local experts to ensure that we get the facts right and consider the wider context. This process is especially important when dealing with challenging topics like gender-based violence. Typically, the African journalist who is writing the resource starts by researching the topic through online research and interviews. A partner organization, who is an expert on the topic, then reviews the draft resource.

The coalition in Burkina Faso and Farm Radio’s promotion of the 16 Days of Activism campaign to our radio partners are only two examples of the gender equality advocacy taking place across the continent.

Violence against women and girls affects more than an estimated one in three women worldwide. No one organization can solve this crisis, but, by working together, we can raise awareness and build a safer future for women, girls and everyone on this planet. We know radio has a key role in ensuring important information and tools reach as many people as possible. 

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